Iran celebrated its National Nuclear Day as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad unveiled the new “third generation” centrifuge, capable of six times the speed of its current machines, and proclaimed Iran a nuclear power.
He had three more reasons to crow:
1. Iran’s first atomic reactor at the southern town of Bushehr began its main and final test at high temperatures after eight months of test runs. If all the components of the Russian-built 1000-megawatt plant work smoothly, the reactor will finally go into full operation in June or in August at the latest after years of delays.
2. So too will the Arak heavy water plant which Iran has been building secretly southeast of Tehran in violation of its Non-Proliferation Treaty obligations. Work there was discovered this week to have advanced by leaps and bounds and brought the project close to completion, against all estimates that the reactor would not be ready before 2015. A former IAEA official, John Carlson, once warned that large light water reactors “of the sort Iran is building at Bushehr can produce 330 kilograms of near-weapons grade plutonium – enough to make more than 50 crude nuclear bombs.”
3. Jafari also announced Iran had uncovered in the central province of Yazd large new deposits of uranium ore plentiful enough to make Iranindependent of foreign imports for both its military and civilian needs. These three breakthroughs on Iran’s road to a nuclear weapon are radical enough to put Tehran in the driving seat in negotiations with the 5+1 Group (five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany).
Iran has shown the world it no longer needs outside help for reprocessing uranium up to the critical 20 percent level, which is a short jump to weapons grade and the fissile core of a nuclear bomb. Tehran has made good use of every second allowed by the US-led world powers’ lame efforts to dissuade it from its nuclear goals by means of partly-effective sanctions, attractive incentives and diplomatic engagement, a policy which gained momentum after Barack Obama became US president. DEBKA